This is a question that has probably crossed the mind of everyone who has ever wanted to attempt MMA or any kind of martial arts really at some point and it is most definitely a valid concern to have.
No matter how old you are, on some level you are definitely familiar with the impact that age has on physical performance. Even as a child you can see how different someone even just in their 30s or 40s moves to how you do.
Age takes its toll and that is a process which starts pretty early in life. Still though, the importance of exercise is also impressed upon us from very early on and that’s not something to be taken lightly either.
Though it might get a little bit more difficult and you might have to look for different kinds of exercise to what you may have practiced when you were young, you have to keep exercising as you get older and even into your senior years.
As it relates specifically to MMA, the answer to the question posed by the title is rather multifaceted. First and foremost, the fact that it’s Women’s MMA we’re discussing here might not make the discussion as different as you would think.
Yes it’s true that men and women are physically different. Men are naturally stronger, faster and have more endurance and stamina, this is a well-known fact, but the only real impact that has is in terms of competition.
What I mean by this is that it would be entirely unfair for women to have to compete in the same categories as men when playing sports, when it comes to exercising for your own benefit, it’s not inhibitory at all.
Women do not need to perform at the same level as men to gain the benefits of exercise. So when it comes to MMA or any sport really, being a woman does not make you less likely to make progress as you get older.
So with that in mind, the real focus of this argument is on age in general. Let’s take a look at it from a couple of different angles. There is probably a point at which it becomes too late for you to train to become a professional.
In general, a pro MMA fighter will have a career that lasts for roughly a decade and it usually starts around about the age of 22. The majority will reach the peak of their career in their late 20s which is evidenced by most major champions being about that age.
And as you can see here, the age range is roughly the same for men and women, with women having their peak maybe slightly earlier than men. What this would indicate is that you probably have the best chance to succeed as a professional if you start training as a teenager.
You are in your physical prime in your late teens and your 20s so you can make more progress in your physical conditioning as well as progress with your skills as a fighter if you start at that age.
You also have to consider the fact that most of the others who will be your competition will have started training at that age so if you attempt it later on you will be at a distinct disadvantage in that regard.
That said, it’s not necessarily impossible. By your mid-30s, your body will likely have worn down to the point where you can’t compete with the younger fighters, and considering it takes probably about 4-6 years of training to reach a professional level, you have a bit of a window.
If you were to start training at 25 for example, you could be a professional by 30 (or perhaps a little earlier if you have some naturally beneficial traits and tons of determination) and then still have a few years worth of a career.
It’s not just the fact that you’ll be slowing down and finding it more difficult to maintain your physical condition that will impact this however. If you want to get to a professional level, it will take a lot of training, which means a lot of time.
You will probably have to train every single day in numerous different ways. There’s cardio training of course and to be able to last for an entire 5 round MMA fight your cardio needs to be sky high.
We’re probably talking about a daily 30-minute run. Then you also need to do strength training and resistance training which involves weightlifting and is probably another 60-90 minutes every day.
And then there is the martial arts itself. There are a number of different ones which are suited to MMA, the most useful ones probably being Brazilian Ju-Jitsu and Muay Thai, but you will probably want to try out as many as you can.
This is arguably the most important part and also one which is going to require daily practice to maintain your skills in. You need to learn how to fight defensively, how to regulate your breathing while you’re fighting and what techniques you need to master to actually win.
And that’s probably another hour or two every day. So realistically, the bare minimum is 3-4 hours of training every single day and probably more if you really want it. The fact is that you’re most likely to have that time when you’re younger.
Once you’re in your mid-20s and you actually have to fend for yourself financially, you’ll have to work your training in around your other responsibilities. So again, I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s too late to start training for professional MMA from scratch until you’re in your late 20s, but you are unlikely to go very far unless you start as a teenager.
As a hobby though, you can do it probably until your late 50s or even early 60s or maybe even beyond depending on the person. Generally the elderly should focus on less high-impact exercises because they’re more susceptible to injury.
But if you start martial arts when you’re middle aged or older as a hobby, there’s no pressure to become a master and you will generally be fighting people of a similar age and at a similar level, so as long as you have clearance from your doctors and have competent trainers you can try at any age.
Thanks for reading, -MMA Guru